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Good Bugs in the Garden

Good Bugs, Animals and Other Beneficials in the Garden

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Below is a list of Beneficial insects, small invertebre and animals that are helpfull to the Jungle Cacti Gardener. Many of the insects mentioned on this page are available from several online sources. (NOTE; Some may have advertizing placed here promoting there live beneficials. other than providing advertizing space does not specifically endorse any of these beneficial suppliers as to quality, reliability or by cost etc. you will need to compare each source yourself. Our only requirement for advertizers of beneficials are that they offer a wide variety.) If your like many who want to reduce chemical usage in the garden beneficials can be a very economical and enviromentally safe alternative versus using insecticides. Each beneficial mentioned on this page may have specific requirements in order to be successful in your Jungle Cacti garden. You may need to study up a bit on each one mentioned here before buying them and releasing them in your garden. After a short study you too will be a master beneficial bug gardener too! Reducing your chemical usage and letting nature do the work for you naturally!



Bees are a gardeners friend they pollinate blooms for you producing seed pods with no effort on your part. Dragon Fruit can also be effectively pollinated by bees when blooms stay open on a warm day in the early morning hours. The only downside is if you want to cross a particular variety with another Bees may randomly pollinate blooms, so after doing your own pollination be it Epiphyllum, Echinopsis, Schlumbergera or Dragon Fruit always cover the bloom to prevent accidental pollination if you do not desire it. After hand pollinating selected crosses, close up the bloom with a rubber band or use a paper bag on Dragon Fruit blooms as there usually much larger.

frog jumping

Frogs are very beneficial to a Jungle Cacti garden if you can encourage them to stay around. They like to eat all the crawling and even flying insects that eat and chomp on the stems and leaves of your plants. No negitive effects to mention except that a few species are poisonous if handled, usually ones with brightly colored spots on there backs. I try to encourage Frogs to take up residence in my growing areas but once the insect populations decrese (they eat most of them) they tend to move on. Some gardeners dont like the chatter they can make mostly in evenings but others enjoy it as i do. If snails and slugs have been eating your Epiphyllums or stripping trails on new growth on your Dragon Fruit larger frogs like snails and slugs as a tasty meal so they can be a gardeners best friend. Smaller frogs will eat many slugs, flies and mealy bugs too!

blk widow

Spiders can be good and bad for your Epiphyllum, Schlumbergera and bad to a lesser extent for Dragon Fruit. The good part is they will trap many crawling insects such as Aphids and flying nats like scale, whiteflys etc. The bad part is if there numbers become too numourous there webs not only will hit you in your face as you garden around your plants but too many webs can also reduce airflow. So when i use a general insecticide i also tend to target spiders for that reason. I will not spray some border or perimeter areas so they can re-colonize. Spiders in general are good but once there numbers get too high the competition for bad bugs increases and so will they web building and airflow will be greatly reduced causing growing conditions to be less than ideal. Some spiders are poisonous such as black widows but they tend to make a home at lower areas 2ft or less high, so spray insecticide in those areas and not all of the areas higher up leaving some good spiders to assist should bad bug populations rise again.

Remember insecticide is only one tool in a great gardeners bag of tricks its not a cure all so spraying constantly will not nessarily give you better results. All you will do is eliminate all the good bugs too and the bad bugs will repopulate even faster than the remaining good bugs can eat them making spraying insecticide a continuous chore. Try to use insecticide spraringly and only to assist in making an even balance of good and bad bugs in the garden.

lady bug running
Lady Bugs

Ladybugs particularly like aphids and may eat upwards of 5,000 in it's lifetime. They can live about one year. Also on the menu for these hungry little pest eaters are small insects such as whitefly, mealybugs, scales, mites, bollworm, broccoli worm, tomato hornworm and cabbage moth. They will also eat the eggs of some insects such as moth eggs.

Nothing negitive at all to mention about Lady Bugs there the number one good bug to have in the garden. Heres something to think about though if you should happen to buy some Lady bugs to set free in your growing areas. Dont release them on a hot afternoon. Why? Well all they will do is fly off to your nieghbors garden or even further away. Instead water all your plants then release them at ground level in early morning hours. The water around and cooler morning temperatures will encourage them not to fly and instead they will climb upwards onto your Epiphyllums, Schlumbergeras and even flower buds of Echinopsis looking for aphids and other bugs. If a good supply of bugs to eat are there they will stay around. Dont release all in one day instead release a few over several days until your infestation is gone.

Attract Lady Bugs to your Jungle Cacti Garden with a Lady Bug house. They are available in many forms simular to bird houses but with only slits to enter so birds do not get them. Gives Lady Bugs a place to hide in cold months too! Below is 2 styles a bird house type and a wall mount version. Add Lady bug attractant or lures pictured below and you will be able to regularily have Lady Bugs in your Jungle Cacti Garden protecting your Epiphyllums,Dragon Fruit, Shlumbergera and more types of plants.

( Pictured below from left to right are examples of 2 types of Lady Bug houses and Lady Bug lure in box)
lady bug house mattslandscape.com2lady bug house mattslandscape.comlady bug attractant mattslandscape

(Below for your enjoyment is a bloom slideshow of a few varieties we grow here at

( Pictured above is a Green Lacewing )

Green Lacewings

Green Lacewings are one of the best all purpose garden predator! They can control; aphids, mealybugs, immature scales and whiteflies, thrips, spider mites and other many other plant pests.

Lacewings are the best all-purpose predator for your garden or greenhouse. About 10 of these Chrysoperla rufilabris lacewing eggs per plant or 1,000 eggs per 200 sq. ft. will control a moderate aphid population on Epiphyllum, Dragon Fruit, Schlumbergera or Echinopsis. For best results three successive releases are recommended.

praying mantis animated
Praying Mantis

The praying mantids, or praying mantises can be a beneficial or good bug to control Grasshoppers on Epiphyllum & Schlumbergera less effective with other pests. Preying Mantis are carnivorous insects that belong to the Mantids family. There are about 2,000 species of mantids. The biggest praying mantises are the Tenodera and the Archimantis, which are six inches long! The smallest praying mantis is the Bolbe pygmaea, which is only 2/5 of an inch, or one-centimeter. The European and Chinese species commonly found sold as eggs at Garden centers were introduced to the Northeastern United States about 75 years ago as garden predators in hopes of overtaking the native pest population. Camouflage is very important for the praying mantis' survival. Because they have so many enemies such as birds, they must blend in with their habitat to avoid being eaten. They have a triangular-shaped head with a large compound eye on each side. Praying mantids are the only insect that turn from side to side in a full 180-degree angle. Their eyes are sensitive to the slightest movement up to 60 feet away. They have straight, leathery forewings and very powerful jaws used for devouring its prey.

The praying mantis is a carnivorous insect that takes up a deceptively humble posture when it is searching for food. When at rest, the mantis' front forelegs are held up together in a posture that looks like its praying. These front legs are equipped with rows of sharp spines used to grasp its prey. They wait unmoving and are almost invisible on a leaf or a stem, ready to catch any insect that passes. When potential prey comes close enough, the mantis thrusts its pincher-like forelegs forward to catch it. There prey probably won't escape because the forelegs are so strong and armed with overlapping spines. The mantid bites the neck of its prey to paralyze it and begins to devour it. The mantis almost always starts eating the insect while it's still alive, and almost always starts eating from the insect's neck. This way, the mantis makes sure that the insect's struggle stops quickly. Praying mantises eat insects and other invertebrates such as other mantises, beetles, butterflies, spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and even spiders. The praying mantises also eat vertebrates such as small tree frogs, lizards, mice and hummingbirds. Praying mantids can resemble flowers and can catch small, unknowing hummingbirds. Praying mantids also eat other nesting birds. Since Preying Mantis may eat beneficial bugs too so there not the first choice when searching for a good bug for the Jungle Cacti Garden. They are a good choice if you have a Grasshopper infestation since there very effective agaist them where other beneficials are not. Preying Mantis can be bought at most garden centers as eggs

Garden lizzard

Garden Lizzards

Larger types of lizzards may eat some vegitation but smaller Garden Lizzards are a gardeners friend as they will eat many pests. Occasionally a beneficial insect here or there too, but there benefits and diet tend to lean towards consuming more bad pests and insects than good bugs or beneficials. Lizards in the Jungle Cacti Garden will eat Crickets, Slugs, Snails, Ants, Spiders, Grasshoppers, Beatles, Earwigs, Mealy bugs and a variety of other insects and small invertebre.

(Below is a bloom slideshow of a few varieties available on this website.)

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(Most e-mails are returned within 24 hours, some maybe returned within 48 hours. At times we can get busy either shipping orders or working in our growing grounds. Every e-mail is very important to us and all are returned ASAP.)

With so many varieties and more added every day heres an easy to use search box below for your convienance to find varieties on the website.

bat animated


Bats; If your lucky enough to have them in a shed or barn and there not roosting where there causing a nusuance like an eve over a doorway, there also a gardeners best friend! Besides going out each night to devour thousands of bugs every night in a perimeter of your location. The waste or (bat guano) they drop at there roosting spot is the best manure you could ever get as an additive to your soil mixes. Some are squimish about bats but remember they only fly around at night (there nocturnal) and they typically always avoid humans. Some say but they may have rabbies etc. well thats possible with any wild animal but the chances of you ever being bitten are remote since your never going to handle them. Bat guano is sold for an average of $15 a pound if you can find it since many large caves and other large colony roosting spots are now protected and guano harvesting has been banned at many of these locations.

lady beetle good bug
( Pictured above is a 'LADY BEETLE')

The 'Lady Beetle' a Mealybug & Thrip Predator

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (Lady Beetles) were first used as a beneficial insect to control mealybugs on citrus crops in the late 1800's, both the adult and larval stages of this beneficial insect attack and feed on all stages of mealybugs. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a small about 1/5" inch long, reddish-brown with dark-brown wing covers. A voracious feeder it will also eat aphids and soft scales making them ideal for the Jungle Cacti garden.

Adult female Lady Beetles lay yellow eggs among the cottony egg sacks of mealybugs. Eggs hatch into larvae in about 5-6 days, depending upon temperature. The three larval stages last from 12-17 days during which time the larvae feed on eggs, young crawlers, and the sugary liquid excrement often called honeydew produced by the mealybugs. Pupation occurs on Epiphyllum, Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis plant stems easily or on greenhouse and shadecover structures. Adults emerge after 7-10 days and live approximately two months. There are usually 4 generations of Lady Beetles each year.

While this predatory beetle thrives on high insect populations of mealybugs and Thrips, they are best released in early spring when the first pests are observed. The Lady Beetle is most effective at 70 degrees farenheit or higher and should be released at a rate of 2-5 beetles per infested Jungle Cacti plant. Lady Beetles should be shaken out close to Mealybug or Thrip infestations at dawn or dusk when they are least active. Repeat as necessary, usually once or twice a year.

Often after release, the mealybug problem will appear to be worse before it improves. This is because the Lady Beetles larvae are covered in a white, woolly material and are very similar in appearance to their prey. Notes: Ants will feed on the honeydew that sucking insects like aphids, mealybugs and thrips will produce so Ants will vigorously protect these pests from their natural enemies. If possible always control ants prior to release if they are present.

assassin bug beneficials
( Pictured above is one variety of Assassin bug, some are also brownish with orange/red only underneath)

Assassin Bugs

Assassin Bugs are a group of bugs with several different varieties not all are closely related, there grouped together more due to similar traits. They have voracious appetites for insects and will suck the blood of everything from caterpillars, thrips, beetles, fly’s, bed bugs and a large variety of other insects. As adults they average ¾” long and are true Assassin Bugs since they can use trickery and can even disguise themselves. They have a very powerful bite. There’s several varieties of Assassin Bugs but not all are necessarily good beneficials since some tend to bite humans too like Bloodsucking Conenose and the Black Corsair-Melanolestes picipes. The Assassin Wheel Bug-Arilus cristatus will rarely bite humans but like the other two above its bite can be painful.

Good Assassin Bugs to use as Beneficials are the Masked Hunter-Reduvius personatus and the Spined Assassin Bug-Sinea diadema. These two varieties are best to use as beneficials in the Jungle Cacti Garden since they seldom bite humans.

predatory mites
( Above pictured is a Predatory Mite attacking its prey )

Predatory Mite

The Predatory Mite or Galendromus occidentalis is reddish in color and resembles some reddish varieties of spider mites (its prey) but has fewer hairs and moves very fast. The Predatory Mite or Galendromus occidentalis will erradicate all stages of Spider Mites-adult, pupae, larve & eggs. Galendromus occidentalis occurs naturally in Western North America, on many plants including Fruit trees, grapes, corn, cotton, ornamentals and strawberries. This predator has five life stages; egg, larva, protonymph, deutonymph and adult. It develops from egg to adult in 7-14 days depending on temperature. This Predatory Mite does best in warmer weather from (80° to 110° F). It does not do well in cool coastal areas.

Release Predatory Mites at the rate of 1,500 - 4,000/acre at the first sign of mites in your Jungle Cacti Garden. A similar approach is recommended for other crops, but the timing will vary depending on the crop species and when Spider Mite populations increase or rise. Greenhouses/shadehouses: 2 per sq. ft. or 1 predator per 5 spider mites at the first sign of spider mites. Later releases will require much higher numbers to be effective. In greenhouse, plants should be maintained in as low as 30% relative humidity for Predatory Mites to be effective.

Notes; Avoid spraying insecticides of any kind one week before or after releasing predators. Some other fertilizers or chemicals may be toxic for up to four weeks or more and affect Predatory Mites.

syrphid fly adult good bugssyrphid fly larva
( Above pictured L to Right is Syrphid Fly adult and Syrphid Larva )

Syrphid Fly Larva 'The Aphid Predator'

Adult Syrphid Fly's can closely resemble bees with yellow bands but instead of being useful pollinators as bees are the Syrphid Fly is an Aphid Predator. Syrphid Fly Larva though not the adults will eat 300-400 Aphids while in Larva stage. Resembling smaller caterpillars Syrphid larvae develop in 3 to 4 weeks but in that short time they can eat several times there own weight in Aphids.

(Below is a bloom slideshow of a few Holiday Cacti varieties available on this website.)

With so many varieties and more added every day heres an easy to use search box below for your convienance to find varieties on the website.

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